The emergent outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has caused a global pandemic. Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and multiorgan dysfunction are among the leading causes of death in critically ill patients with COVID-19. The elevated inflammatory cytokines suggest that a cytokine storm, also known as cytokine release syndrome (CRS), may play a major role in the pathology of COVID-19. However, the efficacy of corticosteroids, commonly utilized antiinflammatory agents, to treat COVID-19-induced CRS is controversial. There is an urgent need for novel therapies to treat COVID-19-induced CRS. Here, we discuss the pathogenesis of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-induced CRS, compare the CRS in COVID-19 with that in SARS and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), and summarize the existing therapies for CRS. We propose to utilize interleukin-6 (IL-6) blockade to manage COVID-19-induced CRS and discuss several factors that should be taken into consideration for its clinical application.
Keywords: Coronavirus disease 2019; Cytokine release syndrome; Interleukin-6; Tocilizumab.
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